An Experiment That Works As Restaurants Return To Sit-Down Service
They aren’t dancing in the street but rather dining in the street in San Diego’s Little Italy.
With restaurants back open to sit-down dining throughout the county, this neat little community with a blocks-long lineup of Italian restaurants, wine bars and other establishments has added another cool element to its already-pleasant atmosphere: dining in the street.
Called Al Fresco by the Little Italy Association, restaurants are putting tables on sidewalks and and also directly on India Street, which is blocked off to traffic. This takes place Saturdays from 4-10 p.m., from Beech to Grape streets.
This is an experiment with the city of San Diego that, if all goes well, could be expanded to other areas, most notably the Gaslamp Quarter’s Fifth Ave.
The first event was held on June 13 and judging by the the debut of Al Fresco, it’s something that is here to stay.
Here are PubClub.com’s observations.
• It isn’t quite as I expected. By that, I pictured tables taking up most of the street with a walkway in the middle. Instead, tables are only two deep. This leaves plenty of walking space for pedestrians on the street and social distancing is easy.
• Not all businesses have tables in the streets. Most of those who don’t are taking advantage of the sidewalk space. At Filippis Pizza Grotto, on the first night anyway, customers lined up along the building to get inside.
• A couple of restaurants on side streets also put out tables.
• Restaurant staff are wearing masks; customers are not (while seated anyway) and neither are people strolling aloing the street.
• Six-feet social distancing is easy to maintain, even among those walking in the street.
• Some restaurants have outdoor heaters in case the weather turns chilly at night.
• There’s no live music but plenty of conversation.
• You can drink wine, champagne and other alcoholic beverages at the street and sidewalk tables.
• I am not sure if you can get an alcoholic drink to go and walk with it in the street. On opening night, I did not see anyone with, say, a glass of wine tho there was an unattended pop-up tent from a winery in the street and a restaurant had a nice bar set up, tho no bartender to staff it. That could just be for sit-down customers.
• The overall atmosphere was like that of an outdoor European market and people everywhere were in a positive, upbeat mood.
As a result, PubClub.com fully supports the Al Fresco dining and hopes it expands to other part of San Diego.